Tempeh Lettuce Wraps

20 May

This was my first experience making anything with tempeh… It is also one of my favorite things I’ve ever made. I started with an Epicurious recipe for Lettuce Cups with Stir-Fried Chicken. I went to the store with the intention of making these with chicken, but passed by the soy-product section and got curious… Plus, Jake and I really don’t eat much meat (despite the last post being a pot roast) so it’s always good to have yummy protein alternatives.

 

First, I made a sauce:

Soy sauce

Sweet soy sauce (we got this at an Asian market and I love adding it to stir fry sauces– gives an authentic taste!)

Sweet chili sauce

A splash of szechuan sauce (for heat)

Grated ginger

I marinated the crumbled tempeh in this sauce for about an hour. This way, the tempeh absorbed this yummy sauce and gave it a lot of flavor in the lettuce wraps.

 

Then, I sauteed:

1 leek, chopped thin

2 mini bell peppers, minced

4-5 baby bella mushrooms, minced

2 cloves garlic

Grated ginger

 

When everything was pretty much cooked I added the tempeh. Once that was heated up, I added 2 green onions and some more sauce (this time, just soy sauce, agave, rice wine vinegar and cornstarch).

 

I used iceberg lettuce because I didn’t see any butter lettuce at the store.. I thought it was good with the crunchy parts of the iceberg.

 

I didn’t take the time to get a great picture because I couldn’t wait to eat them! These were quick, easy and delicious.. Next time I would add more mushrooms and more veggies. Maybe something crunchy for the top, like crispy noodles or chopped nuts (like the epicurious recipe suggested).

 

 

 

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Slow Roasting our Way into Adulthood

4 Mar

Today I did two things that, in my mind, begin to qualify my current life-stage more as “adulthood:”

  • Ordered a subscription to the local paper
  • Made a pot roast

During the chopping, browning, and boiling that occurred pre-roasting the biggest piece of meat I’ve encountered since beginning cooking outside of my mother’s kitchen, I thought of our long-lost blog.. Poor thing has been abandoned for so long now. I’m not sure why I thought of it out of the blue like I did. I guess I figured if I have the time to read the daily paper (in print, rather than on my phone where I usually get my news) and make a pot roast, there’s really no excuse that between Jake and I, we can’t keep up a blog.. about cooking… which we do everyday (almost).

I have vowed to myself not to make any promises, but I will boast proclamations of goals.

  • We will post at least once a week
  • Once a month, we will make something new that we haven’t made before

Really though, a lot has changed since our last post, when homegrown soy beans, boiled and sprinkled with a little salt, was the perfect little snack. We are growing much further away from the summer days of unemployment during which we started this blog.

I now have a job at an elementary school as a para-educator, working with 3rd and 4th grade students who have diagnosed learning disabilities. I absolutely love it. I am also beginning work as a tutor after school for two students, a third grader and a first grader.

Jake has continued working for both Cook Medical and Procure doing mostly video-editing. Cook, however, has recently given him the reigns as producer for an upcoming project, which will involve two business trips for scouting and filming (that might even be more grown-up than making a Sunday roast, huh?). He’s also discovering the many headaches of small business taxes…

We’re headed to New Orleans to visit the Sherry’s for my spring break (ahh, the perks of working at a school!!). Look for food-posts from there in the coming weeks– we plan on cooking quite a bit, taking advantage of the shrimp, oysters and crawfish.

What, you thought this blog was about cooking? Don’t worry, here’s the roast I made:

Red-Wine Pot Roast with Porcini

(This is the picture from Epicuious… mine’s not done yet..)

I used this recipe from Epicurious: Red-Wine Pot Roast. Since Jake’s not a huge fan of mushrooms yet, and it looked just as delicious without them, I left the mushrooms out and just added the 1-cup of stock when it said, not pre-boiled with the mushrooms. I added 4-5 smallish carrots and probably more celery and used thyme instead of marjoram. It looked pretty good before going in the oven:

My goal is to post a picture of the finished product.

Homegrown Soybeans!

15 Sep

Not really a recipe here, but I HAD to brag about eating some edamame that we grew in our garden! They were very delicious.. Just boiled them and sprinkled with freshly ground sea salt. A wonderful snack.

Thanks to Martha (from whom we rent our house) for planting these guys!

Fresh Corn Risotto.. and Tomato, Olive and Feta Salad! YUM

14 Sep

One of my favorite things about summer in Indiana is…. the CORN! It’s so delicious I just can’t get enough of it.

Even after making the Corn, Tomato & Basil Chowder (will post recipe soon) a few days earlier, I was still craving corn and trying to get as much as possible before the season ends. What we make for dinner usually depends on what’s in the cabinet or which meal requires the fewest purchases at the grocery, but sometimes it’s just whatever I’m craving or pops into my head first. This time, Corn Risotto was on my mind.

What makes the mix:

1 onion, chopped

2-3 cloves garlic, minced

1 c. arborio rice

a little white wine (if you’re at the life-stage in which you use wine in cooking… I’m not quite there)

as much chicken broth as you need.. I used about a box and a half

corn from 2 ears, cut off the cob (I’ve decided I am going to start mopping the floor before I cut raw corn off the cob so I can use all the pieces that fall on the ground without needing to inspect each one…)

1/2 c. or so grated parmesan

a quick splash of cream or half&half

Saute the onion and garlic until soft. Add the arborio and stir for a few minutes before you add the wine or the first round of chicken broth. If you’re using wine, I think I’d use a 1/2 c. or so. Pour wine or chicken broth in and stir. After it absorbs just keep adding chicken broth until it absorbs, then add more, and so on. When the rice is almost done (a little crunchy still, but when there’s about 15 min of cooking time left), add the corn. Continue cooking until it’s done! I like the corn to still be a little firm so that when you bite into it you get that little burst of fresh corn taste, but make it however you like. When it’s done, stir in the parmesan, leaving some to sprinkle on top of each serving. Add the tiny splash of cream if you want to. Yum!

I topped ours with a sprig of rosemary and a fried sage leaf to crumble over it just before eating. But you could stir in or top with whatever herbs you like or are available.

I served this with a Cherry Tomato, Olive and Feta Salad. This recipe came from one my mom and I made for a dinner party she had. The original recipe is Cherry Tomatoes Stuffed with Marinated Feta. It’s very pretty, but if it’s not for a party, it’s way to much work to stuff cherry tomatoes… I honestly don’t know what we were thinking making it… even for a party. Just mixing all the ingredients together works just fine.

You’ll need:

1 7-8oz pack of feta, cut into small cubes

2 T olive oil

1 T minced shallot

1/2 t  chopped fresh oregano (or whatever herbs sound good to you)

1 lb cherry tomatoes

12 pitted Kalamata olives (I used a mixture of Kalamata and some fresh green olives)

Now, obviously, I have no idea what a pound of cherry tomatoes looks like when I just have a basket of mixed cherries from my mom’s garden and the farmer’s market.. So just use whatever looks right. Stir everything together, let it sit for a bit so everything can meld together and enjoy!

Stuffed Turnips

13 Sep

Almost every time I go home to my parents house I come back with a stack of copied recipes from my mom’s enormous collection of cookbooks, notecards, magazine clippings, and everything else she’s written a recipe on. After flipping through one of her favorite cookbooks, The Tao of Cooking, and realizing that I basically wanted to copy the whole thing, I went on Amazon, found a cheap used one (in much better condition than my mom’s, which is falling apart) and bought myself a copy!

After I went through and marked all the things I wanted to make (using the better half of a stack of post-its), the recipe that stood out the most was for stuffed turnips. I LOVE turnips. Jake’s friend Joe was visiting us from New Zealand and, as I’ve mentioned before, I love captive food guinea pigs to try out recipes on. We had some beautiful looking turnips and greens from the Farmer’s Market… everything else I already had in the house (which makes this recipe automatic gold).

What made the cut:

4 turnips, more or less uniform in size

1 potato

1/2  10 oz. package fresh spinach (I just used the turnip greens)

1/4 c. parmesan cheese

1 T. butter

salt and pepper to taste

Have I mentioned how much I love recipes with so few ingredients? Anyways, to prepare the turnips, peel and trim off the ends (make sure the bottom is straight so it sits well) and make a “deep circular incision”  on the top. Boil them in salted water until they’re tender enough that you think you could scoop out the middle, but firm enough they won’t fall apart when you do so. Also boil the potato and cook the spinach/greens.

When the turnips are done, scoop out their centers and mash it with the potato and butter. Stir in greens, cheese, salt and pepper. I actually had 5 turnips and I smushed one of them while I was scooping it, so I just added it to the mash. Stuff the turnip shells, piling the filling high. Place them in a baking pan with a little water in the bottom and bake at 400 for 10-15 minutes. I also topped the little guys with some extra parmesan and stuffed a tomato with my left-over filling. I added bread crumbs to the top of the tomato.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The verdict: The stuffing is by far the best part. If I were to do this again, I would just make the stuffing and serve it like mashed potatoes. I was also very unimpressed by their appearance. The turnips are white, the stuffing is pretty much white (other than the greens).. not enough contrast. The tomato, on the other hand, was quite pretty.. and tasty too!

I served these as a little appetizer/side with Corn, Tomato and Basil Chowder.. A delicious summer soup!

Ratatouille

5 Sep

Ratatouille is many things. A delicious combination of vegetables, a film about an adorable rat who dreams of being a French chef, a sensational olfactory event, a recipe passed down generations. Julia Child liked it layered, I like it all stewed together with a little cheese on top like my mom makes.

Because my experience in the kitchen helping my mom make this dish never involved a written recipe, I don’t have one. But here’s what I put in mine:

olive oil

1 onion, chopped

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 zucchini

3-4 patty pans

1 medium eggplant

1 large red bell pepper

2-3 tomatoes

red pepper flakes, to taste

basil and parsley, chopped

parmesan

salt/pepper

Just cut the veggies in cubes of similar sizes and cook all the ingredients (except herbs and cheese) together until they are soft and kind of mushy. I think I cooked mine for about 40 minutes, mostly covered, stirring occasionally. Add the herbs, cook for 5 minutes more. Put into dishes and top with freshly grated parmesan cheese. Or put in oven-safe bowls, top with thin slices of fresh mozzerella and put under broiler until cheese is browned and puffed up. I love this as a main dish by itself, but it can also be served over pasta and rice (I like it better with pasta).

Jake isn’t a huge fan of eggplant, but I was sure that he would like this (who wouldn’t??) and have been trying to convince him that he would. My verbal convincing wasn’t going well, so I had to take action. The vegetables were looking just right, we had everything in the house, and Jake was gone at a film shoot until 9pm. I had it all planned out: he’d come home, exhausted and starving and ask what I’d had to eat for dinner. I’d tell him I made something really delicious and offer to heat some up for him.  He’d eat the ratatouille and love it. We’d live happily ever after.

Alas…. he brought home take-out.

…..Which is probably not such a bad thing since, due to its delicious-ness, I had eaten more than my share and immediately put some away to take for lunch the next day, leaving only a half-sized portion for Jake (which he did eat for lunch and thought it was… pretty good)

Can anyone else believe it’s already Labor Day?

Beet “Tartare”

26 Aug

Since I found this recipe in my cousin’s Veggie Burger cookbook I have wanted to try it. I’ll admit, I was completely enticed by the beautiful picture in the book. Bright beets, topped with creamy white goat cheese, contrasted with freshly ground pepper on top. Simply stunning. Plus, I’ve loved beets ever since my preschool teacher let us try some in school!

Last night, Jake and one of his colleagues were still working hard and I offered to make them some dinner. It was the perfect opportunity to try this recipe (especially since I’d already roasted the beets). Captive food guinea pigs! My favorite.

Not surprisingly, I didn’t have everything this recipe called for.

Recipe:

5 medium beets, scrubbed clean

1 t. olive oil

1 egg white

1 sm. shallot, minced

2 t sherry vinegar

2 t minced tarragon

1 t cornstarch

6 T crumbled goat cheese

pepper

First of all, I had small beets and I’m pretty terrible at estimating how many small things equal medium things.. But I did my best. Didn’t have a shallot (and I even went to the store to try to make the recipe correctly… and they didn’t have any. Thanks, Kroger) so I used a little red onion. Instead of sherry vinegar, I used 2 t red wine vinegar mixed with one droplet honey). Instead of tarragon, I used thyme, rosemary and parsley.

To put it together, first roast the beets and chop them fairly small (about 1/8 inch cubes). In a mixing bowl, whisk egg white, shallot, vinegar, tarragon and cornstarch. Then fold in the beets.

Line the bottom of 4-ounce ramekins with a small piece of parchment paper (I didn’t do this because I didn’t have parchment and it worked okay without it. If you have it, use it, but don’t make a trip if you’ve run out). Using fingers, grease sides and parchment with oil. Pack ramekins with beets, smoothing out the top to make an even surface.

Makes 5-6 ramekins (NOTE: Mine only made 3. Maybe I used to0 few beets, but I imagine if I’d used more there wouldn’t have been enough egg white/cornstarch to hold it together- they were pretty flimsy as it was… I’m fooled by this). Cover each ramekin with microwave-safe plastic wrap & microwave 1 minute. Let cool. (I also found that leaving the plastic wrap on until it cooled helped the ingredients hold together).

Right before I turned it out- I was sure it would fall apart. 

Turn out onto plates (I put them on top of some spinach for added “wow factor” presentation…mission accomplished). Top with goat cheese and pepper. YUM.

Indeed, the first one fell apart a little bit.

But the second one worked pretty well! Especially with parchment, I think it would have been perfect. In my opinion, the beauty of this is even if the mixture doesn’t hold together- you still have yummy beets and goat cheese. Mix them together more and call it a salad!

You can kind of see the goat cheese on top of one in the background. 

I’m pretty disappointed that I didn’t get a picture of the whole thing put together (with goat cheese and pepper) because it looked amazing. But I was in a massive hurry (mistake) and so excited that it worked that I completely forgot until I was about 3/4 of the way finished with mine.. I served them as a side with black bean burgers.

Roommate Will (what, you thought we could afford this place by ourselves??) and I had been talking about why this is called a “tartare” since the beets are, indeed, cooked. But, actually, it does kind of look like beef tartare… I think?